Sunday, November 29, 2009

Ægir in Bergen

Beers from Norwegian craft breweries are getting easier to get hold of in Bergen. Henrik has offered Nøgne Ø beer on tap for a while, and Naboen is even better with also beers from Haandbryggeriet available.

These days Naboen even has another ace in their sleeve. It is now possible to drink draughted beer from Ægir brewery. Ægir is based in Flåm in the deepest of the West-Norwegian fjords. Their beers can be found at some Vinmonopolet outlets and have also appeared from tap at beer bars in Oslo this year.

The addition of Ægir makes Naboen a really interesting beer destination in Bergen. During the last few weeks the line-up has had some changes, but the current offers are: Aass lager, Aass Classic lager, Naboen Bayer, Nøgne Ø Blond, Haandbryggeriet Weizen, Ægir IPA and Haandbryggeriet Norse Porter.

Ægir IPA smells of flowers and hops. The hops are very distinct in the mouth and the beer feels bitter. There is also some fruitiness, and after a few sips I conclude that this is a delicious beer. But as I drink more of it, I feel it gets way too bitter. But it is still a nice IPA.

In addition to the new beers, there is also something else that is special to Naboen right now. The pub has recently started using a traditional hand pump as the only bar in Bergen, I believe. This week they had Haandbryggeriet Norse Porter available from the hand pump. Served in the glass this is a black beer without carbonation. The head has a medium height and is offwhite. There is coffee in the nose, and in the mouth the beer feels creamy and very tasty with more coffee. The beer is also fruity with a bitter finish. Norse Porter is a very good and enjoyable beer.

I also tried Haandbryggeriet Pale Ale from tap. This was a dark and cloudy beer with much hops. There are hints of pear in the mouth, and the fruit stays through the finish where it struggles with bitterness. A good beer that I prefer to the Ægir IPA.

Earlier this month you could find Haandbryggeriet IPA from the hand pump. The IPA had very little carbonation and a lasting head. The beer was fruity in the nose, and in the mouth a combination of pears and apples gave the beer a great punch.

This was an excellent creamy beer, and I preferred it to the Haandbryggeriet Pale Ale and the Norse Porter. If you people at Naboen read this, I recommend you to have the IPA on the hand pump and not the Norse Porter.

If you want to try out more beers from Ægir, Haandbryggeriet or other Norwegian breweries, Naboen has also a lot of bottled craft beers. Prices are high. I paid 98 NOK (11 GBP or EUR) for my pints of draughted beers.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Beer tasting heaven

There are some extraordinary tap rooms and restaurants in Prague if you are interested in beer. I have written about places like U Sadu, Kralovstvi, Prvni Pivni Tramway and Hrom do Police earlier, but when it comes to beer selection they are all beaten by U Prince Miroslava. U Prince Miroslava can be found two tram stops from the Radlicka metro station. It is possible to see the hospoda from the Laurova tram stop, which is less than 100 metres from the pub.

Inside there are two big rooms. In the first room you can find the bar where no less than 13 taps can be found in addition to one for Kofola, a Czech soft drink. The fun thing is that what beers that are sold is not constant. I visited U Prince Miroslava on five occations in early October. While some beers were available all the time, others changed from visit to visit.

First of all U Prince Miroslava is a place for beers from Svijany, Primator and Opat breweries. The most common beers in the Czech Republic, Gambrinus and Pilsner Urquell, are also available. On all my visits I could drink stout, weizen and pale ale from Primator. From Svijany Maz, Kníže and Kvasničák were available, while Opat were represented with among others their pepper beer.

I did not try all beers that were available at U Prince Miroslava during my visits, but I tried some of them. There were even some beers that I tried several times.

My favourite was Primator Stout. That was a very pleasant beer, and I would love to do a comparison with an Irish stout. I guess this Czech beer without problems can go head to head with Guinness or Murphy's. The Primator Stout was a black beer served in a large glass. It has a large whitish head and nearly no carbonation. This was a bitter stout with a lot of coffee notes. I would have preferred it creamier, but in all an excellent beer.

Svijany's kvasnicove, Kvasničák, had also little carbonation, but it was served with a large and thick head. The beer was sweet with yeast tones. I liked it a lot, and it is one of the better kvasnicove beers I have been drinking.

Svijany Kníže had a large head. It tasted much more bitter than the kvasnicove and other Svijany beers I have tasted. I prefer other offers from Svijany than this one. By the way, it tasted better at U Prince Miroslava than at U Bejvalejch Vyndanejch.

My first beer from Opat was their pepper beer. There was pepper in the nose, and the pepper was clearly present in the mouth as well. I liked it as a novelty, but it will not be something I will actively seek out.

I also tried Opat Bitter. It was an OK beer, but I felt it was more or less the pepper beer without pepper. Try it if you want to, but U Prince Miroslava has better offers than this.

On my last visits there had been changes in the beer line-up. Among others U Prince Miroslava now offered lagers from Bernard and Rohozec and a amber lager from Herold. I tried the Rohozec lager, and I found it quite refreshing. This was a pale lager with lemon in the nose. There was a large head and little carbonation. In the mouth the lemon was there again together with some pleasant maltiness. A nice lager, by all means.

There was also food to be had at U Prince Miroslava. One day I tried smažený syr, fried cheese. On the side I had Czech potato pancakes, bramboráčky, and some salad. That was a great fast food snack with beer.

Another snack I tried was Nakládaný hermelín or marinated cheese. I have never tried that before, and found it very good together with a lager beer.

Utopence, pickled sausage with onions, was also great. I liked the sausage a lot.

U Prince Miroslava is one of my favourite hospodas in Prague, and I enjoyed visiting. The two young and blonde waitresses from my first visits were very good at their job, and had a smile while doing their work. They were also very efficient.

On my last visits two other waitresses were at work. The service was now slower and I missed the smiles from the blondes. A smile brights your day, and it also makes a visit at U Prince Miroslava better.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Prague delight

There are bars and pubs that end up among your favourites, My favourite in Prague is U Sadu, which can be found in the Zizkov neighbourhood.

U Sadu has the feeling of a local pub in Britain. People come and go, but after visiting several times you see some of the same faces. Inside there are several rooms for the guests, but the really interesting part is the interior. Everywhere you can find tools and machinery, and some of it is hanging down from the ceiling. There is never a dull moment while looking at it. It is also possible to watch sports at U Sadu. There are screens in the pub, and I have watched some football games there. The opening hours at U Sadu are unsual. U Sadu opens at 8 AM and closes at 4 AM. In the weekends it opens at 9 AM. Thus there is plenty of time for a quick pint more or less at any time.

In Summer there are tables outside, and I have had many well draughted half litres of beer sitting there. There is not much traffic in the square next to U Sadu, and it is nice sitting outside in a quiet corner of Prague.

Pilsner Urquell and Gambrinus are the beers that most people drink at U Sadu. Fortunately the Pilsner Urquell served is the tankova version. But there are more beers to be found. U Sadu also sells the two darker Master beers and Svijany Maz. Wheat beer connoiseurs will also be happy, as U Sadu also offers the excellent Primator weizen from tap.

When I was in Prague last month, there was also a new beer available. U Sadu sold draughted Jezek. I really liked this sweeter lager beer, as it was very drinkable in the warm weather. I do not know if Jezek will stay as one of the usual U Sadu draughted beers, as it may be part of a rotating tap system where they change beers now and then. In the meantime Jezek is a nice alternative.

I have spent many days at U Sadu, and I will be back. Excellent service, good food and a nice selection of beers make U Sadu a great hospoda in Prague.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Beers and bears

U Medvídků is one of the restaurants that get a mention in all guide books on Prague. The name means the little bears and it is both a hotel and a restaurant. The restaurant is nice, the courses are tasty and typically Czech and the beers that are served are very good. In addition to this the service is excellent and the prices are at a good level in Prague.

I visited U Medvídků for the first time in October together with my friend Pivní Filosof. The Prague based beer blogger guided me upstairs to a very special part of U Medvídků, the combined minibrewery and restaurant.

Just being in the room was fantastic. There are so many beer related things to look at. I had a really nice time just enjoying the eyecandy all over U Medvídků while being there.

You could find brewing instruments, tap towers, bottles, glasses and brewery placards. You name it, and it is probable there!

Pivní Filosof and I spent some hours in U Medvídků talking about beers and life in general. It was a great afternoon, and it was made greater by some of the wonderful beers brewed at U Medvídků.

First out was Oldgott Barique. This is a 13° amber beer. It was delicious, and I really enjoyed it.

Next beer was the new lager from the U Medvídků brewery called 1466. This cloudy beer was another excellent brew. It was a little bit stronger than Oldgott Barique, but very enjoyable.

Then we tried the strongest beer from U Medvídků, X33. This was a fullbodied delight nearly black in colour. The taste was wonderful. It was full of plums and delicious sweetness. It was just magnificent and something to be enjoyed in small sips. That is also due to the strength. This is a beer with slightly more than 12% alcohol.

I also had some food while at U Medvídků. First out was the garlic soup. It was strong in taste and very good. To be recommended!

I also tried the goulasch with two kinds of dumplings. It was also to my liking, and the gravy was extremely tasty.

A few days after my meeting with Pivní Filosof I went back to U Medvídků to check out the beer hall downstairs. I found a table in a very crowded room and ordered an Oldgott Barique. I was very disappointed when it arrived in a bottle. I felt even more let down after tasting the bottled beer. It was way superior from draught, so my advice would be to take the trip upstairs if you want to drink Oldgott Barique. It is best from tap.

U Medvídků also specialises in beers from Budvar. I had a half litre of their excellent pale lager and enjoyed every bit of it. What would I prefer, then? Budvar or 1466. I guess that depends on the day. I feel Budvar is the better session beer of the two, but 1466 is more interesting to drink and enjoy. They also sell other Budvar beers at U Medvídků, and the full range including dark lager and kvasnicove can be found at the Budweiser Budvar bar on the ground floor. The opening times are also great at the bar. While the rest of U Medvídků closes at 11PM, the Budvar bar closes at 3AM.

I had two fabulous days at U Medvídků. The food was good, the beers were good and life was good. I also spent some time in the in-house beer shop where you can buy bottled U Medvídků beers, glasses, Budvar merchandise and also many beers from several Czech breweries. In short: A great place!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Beers and flying horses

If you like beer, it is more or less impossible to be visiting Brno and not take a look inside Pegas. Pegas is both a hotel and a restaurant, but there is also a micro brewery on the premises.

I entered Pegas in the late afternoon, and the place was already packed. There was an available chair at a table, and I asked the couple sitting there if I could sit down.

Well placed in Pegas, I just enjoyed the atmosphere with people enjoying themselves and having fun. I decided to join in on the fun and ordered a pint of Pegas' own svetly lezak, pale lager. Also available was a weizen beer, a dark lager and a strong pale lager called Pegas Gold.

I had decided not to do any tasting notes at Pegas, but just sampling the beers. Well, I did not get very far. The pale lager was so good that I just continued drinking it for the next hours. It was a tasty brew with some carbonation and a large, lasting head. A great beer!

Before I had to head to the Brno railway station again, I felt that I had to try another beer. I decided to try the weizen, as I needed something different than lager. The wheat beer was cloudy and served with a slice of lemon. I felt the lemon slice was unneccessary, but I liked the citrus notes in the beer. But I never found out if the citrus was only from the slice or you could find it in the beer itself.

Pegas was a very nice restaurant, and I enjoyed every moment there. A return to Brno is not in my immediate plans, but if I do I will visit Pegas once again.